Friday, October 07, 2005

the comics.

Came across a great book of biographical comics from a comic fesitval called SPX. It's a compilation of different cartoonists giving short biographies of everyone from St. Francis to Edward Gorey and a whole lot in between. A lot of obscure people that I never would have known anything about, let alone their name. There's Harou Nakajima, the guy who was the man inside Godzilla and may other low-budget Japanese monster flics; Terry Sawchuck, a hardcore, injury-prone, hockey goalie from the 50's; Jack Nance, who was Henry from Eraserhead (who knew that production on that movie took five years?) and Jeffery in Blue Velvet; the ethnobotanist Richard Even Schultes, who spent 12 years in the Amazon collecting plants and studying/participating in ritual healing and ceremonies; Bernard Buffet, the French painter behind tons of bad thrift store art. I learned that Atari once loaded up 14 tractor trailers with E.T. and Pacman games that hadn't sold, crushed them and buried them under cement in a secret landfill in New Mexico; one of New Zealand's most popular love songs is a song a guy wrote for his sister; the jacuzzi was invented when one of the Jacuzzi brothers who had a child born with severe arthritis that required regular hydrotherapy; the word "assasin" comes from Hasan-I-Sabbah, who fed his warriors hashish (assasin meaning "users of hashish"). The story that sucked me in was a story of P.T. Barnum as a kid, where his grandfather spent most his childhood fooling him that he had inherited a valubale piece of property when he really had an inexcessible island of ivy.
The comic Bone by Jeff Smith is pretty fun. I remember seeing this comic when I used to occasionally browse the underground comics when I was in high school, but had never sat down with it. We got the collected first year into Orca, so I picked it up and it was cool, much more of a comic than a graphic novel, it was action-filled, humorous, but so well done, I didn't really care that it wasn't amazingly inovative.
Read Understanding Comics about a month ago, which is a very inovative graphic novel about comics, how they work, the different levels they work on, the many variations, the possibilities, and so much more. I'd read it in pieces before, but sitting down with it made me realize how intellectualized it is. Might change the way you look at comics.

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